Tag Archives: carmine

There’s a Bug on your Face! Cosmetics and their Love Affair with Coloring.

Have you ever gone on a run or bike ride and gotten a cloud of nats stuck to your face? It’s not an enjoyable experience. What if they were ground up and put in the products that go on your face?

Bug juice is an actual ingredient that cosmetic (and food!) companies use to make their product look pretty. Unless you’re Bear Grylls, the thought of that may make you uncomfortable.

Hold the beatles, please
The female cochineal, when crushed after feeding on the pricky pear cacti, create a striking red color. The coloring is used in everything from lipstick to cosmetics with a reddish tint. Though this product may have little effect on most, some have had serious allergic reactions to this popular bug extract.

Red Dye #2
We wish this problem were just about bugs. Almost every cosmetic uses some sort of colorant. You may remember the Red Dye #2 panic. Studied linked the popular coloring to cancer. The Mars Company had to take red M&Ms out of lineup even though it contained no Red Dye #2! The coloring made a comeback in the form of Red Dye #40. In 2010, several governmental organizations have called for the ban of this dye now.

Remind me to only drink black coffee at Starbucks – FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Starbucks recently “decided” to get rid of the bug juice carmine from their strawberry flavoring. Carmine is just a fancy word for crushed beetles. Starbucks will now use a natural tomato extract instead to color their strawberry filling. Why is it such a tug of war with the big companies to listen to the customers over margins?

How synthetic coloring?
Almost every colorant has some kind of effect on the body. Here is the “palette” of coloring a popular company uses for their line of cosmetics:

  • Brilliant Blue FCF – Derived from petroleum; known to cause allergic reactions; was banned in over 10 European countries
  • Sunset Yellow FCF – Derived from petroleum and coal tar; known to cause allergic reactions and hyperactivity; banned in several countries including Norway and Finland
  • Allura Red AC – Known to cause hyperactivity in children; The Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling for an FDA ban
We can’t look like Brad Pitt anymore than we can make a bug and color-free soap look like that

As much as we wish our soap could can be as pretty as Tyler Durden’s, we don’t use fragrances or coloring of any kind. In any product. This puts a major hamper on people’s expectations of what a soap should look like – pretty, sensual, beautiful, colorful. It’s not your prom date. It’s supposed to clean. For pure utilitarian purposes a soap with the absence of these terrible ingredients does far more for the skin.

“Natural” products
This goes back to what a natural product really is. We call our products natural and so do many others. But what is exactly is natural? Technically, bug juice is as natural as you get. The Ancient Aztecs used it as a dye for centuries. The real issue is the labeling. Companies list this ingredient as “other” or simply Carmine. It’s skating around the issue that bug juice simply disgusts most of us. Companies would rather keep their margins than disclose the nature of their ingredients.

Bug juice may seem gross but it’s not near as disgusting as some of the synthetic coloring that makes it’s way to the store shelves. Those can have devastating effects for some. For what? To make the product prettier. Nothing more.